Keren Hateshuva's Jerusalem program is generously supported by the
Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
Adiel uses imagery to describe his personal odyssey. We asked him what lay behind his successful transition from a career of crime, to becoming observant, and whether he could have cut himself off from his drug- saturated lifestyle alone, without the Keren’s residential program. His answer was disarmingly simple, “You cannot climb this high ladder without someone holding it stable for you.”
“Your body is like a city under siege, with two opposing forces wanting to capture it”, Adiel uses another metaphor. “I’m talking about your good and evil inclination. When you’re released from prison, into total freedom with no supervision, this is the real test of life. Your fears and determination are tested, as to whether you’ll slip back into making a mockery of your life. Who will conquer your body- your good or evil inclinations? Are you going to stumble and once again find yourself behind bars? How do you calculate how much you have to lose if you make the wrong decisions? You’re out on parole, with a third of your conviction period in abeyance. You’re walking along a very narrow bridge, in danger of falling, or reneging on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s like having pneumonia and standing on the edge of an icy swimming pool. You need all the help you can get, in withstanding this challenge”
Spirituality Bereft of Content
It is largely thanks to this place that I was reborn, says Adiel, who decided to add the suffix “El” to his given name after completing the rehabilitative program at Beit Avraham. He went even further, returning to work as a counselor for other residents. “What was my life like before I entered into the hostel? I was addicted to adrenaline, I lived for the moment. I was enslaved to drugs. I even fooled myself into thinking that I was actually helping my friends, when supplying them with drugs. I became a spiritual freak – not realizing that my brand of spirituality was really empty. I was living in an illusion, unconnected with reality. From marijuana, I progressed to ecstasy and related trips, losing all my sanity. Eventually I struck rock – bottom: all my money was wasted on my craving for drugs.”
“After 13 years of a drug – saturated lifestyle, of alternating prison stays and two marriages and subsequent divorces, I finally understood that my life was one big shining lie. I finally discerned the gap between a Torah lifestyle, and the idol-worship of drugs. This happened in the religious wing of one of the prisons; I decided to seize the opportunity that was offered me by Keren Hatshuva, to begin rehabilitation based on Torah values and behavior.
In the hostel I discovered that we all had a common denominator. We all studied Torah and prayed together. We supported each other, learning not to despair from stumbling in our long and arduous path to regaining normalcy. Understanding that every Jew has the ability to return to his appointed place.”
Filling My Soul
Adiel stayed at Beit Avraham for 12 months. During that period he was allowed to study Torah in parallel with continuing his therapy to free him from the clutches of his drug dependency. “I began to flourish” he notes, “Faith, confidence, self –assurance. I found that the rabbis who taught us related to us as adoptive parents, family. For anyone not living with us at the hostel, it is difficult to envisage how much joy and happiness these study session engendered. Each study session ended with us dancing in a circle. It felt like a spiritual pleasure emanating from love, totally altruistic. I know that in the hostel setting there are strict rules regarding behavior and discipline, but the approach of our teachers and therapeutic staff in guiding us is really designed to raise us from the depths – this is true love.”
When Joel Hazan and Arye Shraga discuss Adiel, they sound like parents who are proud of their talented child’s achievements. Adiel recently married, after which they suggested he work as a counselor at the hostel. He repaid their trust with the following words: “Whatever I received from the Keren, I convey to the other residents. I spend two nights a week with them. I have deep affection for them. Because of my previous drug-dealing days, I feel I have an obligation – as part of my repair process – to help others avoid my mistakes. I’m not into this type of work for the money, but primarily for the sake of my soul.
“For me, Beit Avraham was like an incubator, warm and loving.” Currently, he studies and works at the Shuvu Banim yeshiva in Jerusalem’s Old City and enjoys being part of the hostel’s professional team. With a sparkle in his eyes, he notes “There are multiple meanings to the name Beit Avraham - foremost it is the name of Abraham, our forefather, who introduced faith in God into the world; it is also named after Rabbi Avraham Hazan OBM who personified loving-kindness. No words can describe the magnitude of his efforts and heritage. May God help his son Yoel, the Chairman of Keren Hatshuva, to continue to help more people who are stranded and straying, who need the type of support and focus that the hostel provides.”